Insight into the U.S. Treasury Update for Homeowner Assistance Fund (HAF) Allocation

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in June 2021 and has been last updated on November 3, 2021 for accuracy.

Last week, the U.S. Department of the Treasury announced a new deadline for a Tribe, Tribally Designated Housing Entity (TDHE), or the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands to submit a notice of funds request to be extended to November 15, 2021.

For state agencies, in August the Treasury announced a new deadline of August 20th by which they were required to submit the Homeowner Assistance Fund (HAF) plan or notify the Treasury of the date they planned to submit a completed plan. The Treasury has provided an online portal where state agencies can upload their plans.

This notice is the latest of the series of HAF Plan submission deadline extensions the Treasury has allowed since June. In their late July announcement, the Treasury indicated that the deadline will be extended beyond July 31st but left it open-ended. With this latest update, state agencies are closing all loose ends on their HAF plans and preparing for the complete plan submissions. As noted by the Treasury, state agencies can choose not to submit the plan but notify the Treasury the date by which their plans will be submitted.

State agencies are busy analyzing available emergency fund deployment software solutions, and ancillary services from call service providers, loan processors, underwriters, and file audit and compliance processors. ProLink offers all services required for many states and we have been providing national webinars to apprise states of the software and services we can provide to assist in the administration of their HAF plans.

 

About the Homeowner Assistance Fund

The Homeowner Assistance Fund provides $9.961 billion in assistance nationally related to mortgages and housing, including:

  • A minimum of $50 million for each state, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico
  • $498 million for Tribes or Tribally designated housing entities and the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands
  • $30 million for the territories of Guam, American Samoa, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands

You can read more about it on the U.S. Treasury website.

Loss Mitigation, a Hot Topic with the Treasury

Most states have submitted their Homeowner Assistance Fund (HAF) plans to the U.S. Treasury in August. As of the publication of this blog, various states are engaged in active dialogues with the Treasury regarding their HAF plans. A hot topic of the discussions is the issue of integrating HAF into loss mitigation options that are already in place.

In a recent webinar hosted by the Urban Institute, panelist Stockton Williams, Executive Director of the National Council of State Housing Finance Agencies (NCSHA) explains, “Homeowner Assistance Fund really shouldn’t be seen as a stand-alone thing. It’s really a part of a suite of tools that are going to be available.” Williams was referring to loss mitigation options that are already available to homeowners who have mortgages with the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), or the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), which oversees Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

William Corbett, Senior Advisor at the Treasury, concurs with Stockton’s view. William said, “You have much better and, in some cases, very streamlined federal loss mitigation options that are available to homeowners. That won’t work for every homeowner… There will be some homeowners who will be able to get success from that…and homeowners that might not be able to get success from that. That’s one area where housing counselors can assist.” You can find a recording of the webinar on the Urban Institute’s website here.

At the upcoming industry event, ProLink Technology Live 2021, ProLink Solutions is hosting a panel with industry experts to discuss the latest HAF implementation issues including loss mitigation. The event is free and is open to all public agencies.

All session and speaker information can be found in the registration site.

Check out the site and register today!

Announcing ProLink Technology Live 2021!

ProLink Solutions is opening our annual user conference to all public agencies nationwide this year. Join ProLink Technology Live 2021 on November 9 and 10. It’s a two-day virtual event with multiple tracks:

  • Track 1 – ProLinkHFA Multifamily is a 2-day track filled with software training as well as an 8823 Compliance panel made up of industry experts. Open to all public agencies.
  • Track 2 – ProLink+ HAF is a single day track (November 9) focused on Homeowner Assistance Fund implementation. Open to all public agencies.
  • Track 3 – ProLinkAIM is a single day track (November 10) and open only to ProLinkAIM users in the LIHTC syndication and investment space.

On November 9 at 11AM Eastern, we will kick off the conference with a special keynote speaker Jennifer Schwartz, Director of Tax and Housing Advocacy with the National Council of State Housing Agencies (NCSHA), to provide affordable housing industry updates from Washington!

All session and speaker information can be found in the registration site.

The event is free. Check out the site and register today!

Tackling the Digital Divide in Urban and Rural Colorado

Five percent of Colorado’s K-12 students lack access to affordable and reliable internet at home according to the study published by Colorado Futures Center (Access the full report here: https://www.coloradofuturescsu.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/colorado-remote-learning-impact-region-final.pdf). Housing Colorado, a non-profit organization in Colorado with a mission of promoting the preservation and production of quality affordable housing statewide, is hosting a webinar on September 21 to address the issue of the digital divide in urban and rural Colorado.

Ryan Kim, ProLink Solutions’ Director of Product Marketing, will be moderating the panel with two speakers, Jesse Burne with Denver Housing Authority and Josh Wehe with Jade Communications. “Since the COVID-19 pandemic began last year, many of us conduct our day-to-day business virtually and take our access to high-speed internet for granted. Imagine if you or your kids didn’t have access to internet. How would you effectively compete whether at work or at school?” says Ryan.

In the webinar, the panelists will share their success stories in filling the digital gap. Denver Housing Authority has run a program called ConnectHome Denver, which tackles the issue in the urban area by creating local partnerships encompassing government agencies and multiple Internet Service Providers (ISP). Jesse Burne, Strategic Initiatives Manager with the Housing Authority, will tell the story. Josh Wehe, Operations Director with Jade Communications, a smaller ISP in Southern Colorado, will provide a rural counterpart presentation. Jade Communications has assisted half a dozen school districts in low-income communities in the San Luis Valley region.

The webinar is scheduled for September 21 at 1 p.m. Mountain Time. Register here:
https://www.housingcolorado.org/events/EventDetails.aspx?id=1548714&group=#

ProLink Integration Video Featured at NCSHA Annual Conference

ProLink Solutions is a proud sponsor of the National Council of State Agencies (NCSHA) annual conference for 2021. Our video will be featured during the “Implementing the Homeowner Assistance Fund” panel on Monday, September 27 at 3:30 p.m. Eastern Time.

This video showcases new ProLink+ integrations with both DocuSign and Amazon QuickSight. With DocuSign eSignature, homeowners can sign the Hardship Affidavit quickly and easily. Amazon QuickSight allows agencies to view real-time reporting on critical fund distribution metrics, such as “Percent of Funds Disbursed,” “Average Days in Stage,” “Number of Applications per Stage,” and “Total Amount Disbursed by County.”

We invite you to watch our video about these exciting integrations below:


Register for the conference today to learn more about how ProLink+ can assist homeowners in your state.

ProLink Panelists at NCSHA’s Housing Credit Connect in June 2021

ProLink Solutions is proud to announce we are an Event Platform Sponsor of the Housing Credit Connect conference in June 2021 hosted by the National Council of State Housing Agencies (NCSHA).  Some of the hot topics addressed in this conference include racial equity, climate change, healthy housing, emergency rental assistance, and preservation threats. We are happy to stand behind the affordable housing industry during this critical time as the nation is going through various changes, such as a new Administration and the global pandemic.

ProLink Panelists

Kelly Encinias, ProLinkHFA Product Owner, will be speaking at the Modernizing Compliance Monitoring panel on Wednesday, June 23 at 2:45PM ET. She will be introducing XML as a critical tool to enhance data security and share tenant compliance data seamlessly amongst various organizations.

At ProLink Solutions, Kelly focuses on customizing training plans for customers based on process discovery and successfully executing those plans in an efficient manner.

Ryan Kim, Director of Product Marketing at ProLink Solutions, is speaking at the Enhancing Public Policy with Portfolio Data panel on Wednesday, June 23 at 4:00PM ET. Ryan will tell a story from the housing finance agency side in terms of asset management data collection and analysis trends.

At ProLink Solutions, Ryan creates and communicates the vision for the ProLink Product Suites and drives various industry initiatives. He builds external partnerships and collaborates with stakeholders to bring changes.

 

We hope you join the Housing Credit Connect conference this year and learn and share with other industry participants. See you there!

 

 

No More Treasure Hunts: The Value of a Centralized Database

Treasure hunts sure were fun as a kid. Whether your parents sent you looking for buried boxes of gold with coffee-stained clues, or you were decked out in pastels and on the prowl for Easter eggs, your younger self was filled with a sense of adventure. Sure, you secretly wondered if you’d ever find the prize, but the rush of glory once you did was always worth it.

Treasure hunts at work, however, have less luster. When you’re on a deadline and can’t find information you need, it is not adventure you feel—it’s stress and frustration. That’s why you need a centralized database, which has a lot of benefits to offer your organization. Let’s go over some of the ones you’d see immediately.

Real-time Access & Up-to-date Information
When you have a single database into which information is recorded, you don’t have to wonder whether or not someone has plugged in their data from another source. And if the system is worth its salt, it will also show you when each record was last edited—and by whom. This gives you the freedom of knowing you’re always using the most up-to-date information available.

Reporting Capabilities
When all your data is stored in a single place, it makes reporting easier and faster. Even better, it gives you more versatile reporting options, since you can include any piece of information or any data point. You’re no longer limited by what is recorded in each system—you can pull anything you need. If your database is structured correctly, your ability to access information is nearly limitless.

Efficiency
Once your data is all in one spot, it eliminates your need to hunt through multiple systems and spreadsheets for the record you need. (How many hours would you save right there?) It also increases your organization’s efficiency by requiring data to be input only once—instead of multiple times across different systems. That means time formerly spent on a tedious task can now be used for something else, making the organization more productive.

While no one’s saying you shouldn’t channel your inner pirate or Indiana Jones, work isn’t the best place to do it. Instead, store all your golden data in a single treasure chest, so when you need information you know for certain which X marks the spot.

8 Questions You Won’t Think To Ask When Looking For An Enterprise Solution

ProLink Solutions, as an industry leader in affordable housing, serves our customers and the overall industry by continually adapting—applying and translating changes in the market and federal regulations to technology. In doing so, we keep our software products up-to-date and relevant to our customer base as well as the industry overall.

Affordable Housing for Ex-Offenders

It’s no secret that finding affordable housing, especially in growing cities such as Denver, can be difficult; but imagine trying to find a safe, affordable place to live after leaving prison. There are very few options for ex-offenders looking to get their life back on track.

In November, Housing Colorado organized a great panel on this topic. Panelists included Mike Anderson from Just Another Guy, Amanda DeHerra and Leslie Ogden from FOCUS Re-entry, Erin Medina from Bridging the Gap, Deb Winas and Jennifer Vaugh-Reali from Inside/Out, and Carol Peeples from the Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition.

With incarceration rates and the other associated costs constantly rising, many organizations are looking for solutions to keep people out of prison and improve support systems to integrate them as productive members of society.

Definition: Recidivism – the tendency of a convicted criminal to reoffend

Here are some of the stats:

The budget increases reflect the huge costs to house and manage prisoners, pay for correction officers, and support a wide range of correction activity programs. Here is a quick breakdown from Mother Jones on how the budget is divided. While these programs are important, it is telling that in Colorado more taxpayers’ dollars go towards prisons than supporting higher education.

The cost associated with housing and managing prisoners will continue to increase if we can’t find ways to keep ex-offenders out of jail once they are released. Many of these people are more than capable of being contributors to society. Of the 191,757 offenders in custody as of September 30, 2010, approximately 39% of those offenders were subject to mandatory minimum penalties at sentencing. Of those sentenced to mandatory minimums, 32% had little or no criminal records.

As stated above, with recidivism rates at 49% and many Colorado parolees back in prison within 8 months, identifying ways to support the successful re-entry of rehabilitated ex-offenders is critical to keeping them out of prison and integrated back into society in meaningful ways.

For many, once they are released from jail they have no money, nowhere to stay, and no job. As they struggle to find transportation, shelter, food, and other basic needs, the first hours after leaving prison can be the hardest, and most vulnerable. These first few hours are just one tiny component of the reentry process which, for some, never ends. Reentry encompasses everything from education and counseling while in prison, to the lifelong hurdles of finding housing and employment after release. This is what panelist, Amanda DeHerra and Leslie Ogden, talked about.

Programs That Are Making a Difference in Colorado

FOCUS Re-entry is an organization that works with prisoners while they are still in prison to continue to help them with their reentry once they leave. Based in Boulder, mentors are assigned to serve as a bridge in the transition back into society. Those participating in the program have a dramatically lessened rate of recidivism by the mentors addressing cognitive-behavioral changes, enhancing motivation, using positive reinforcement, and encouraging ongoing support in natural communities. The mentees are able to see and model positive social reintegration within the family, workplace and community. A third party study shows that in fact FOCUS program participants show a 17% recidivism rate, as opposed to the 49% previously mentioned.

Organizations like the ones that participated in the Housing Colorado panel are working with prisons, and ex-felons, to find ways to decrease the rate of recidivism. Inside/Out is another one of these organizations that works with prisoners. They provide manageable rent, $450 monthly, and help them with their reentry, by ensuring they have all the identification they need, providing education, and helping them find a job. On top of all that, they help their clients with the basic needs that they might not have learned growing up – like how to manage a budget. These are all necessary skills and needs that a person needs in order to survive in America.

Just another Guy (JAG) provides transitional and long term housing strictly for ex-felons. His tenants have to pay each week and abide by the house rules that include, no overnight guests, smoking, alcohol, or drugs. Mike helps his tenants learn how to be good tenants and his tenants can stay as long as they need as long as the house rules aren’t broken.

Let’s Work Together Towards Affordable Housing for All

Housing prices are set by the Department of Local Affairs, and currently the standard for a one bedroom is $958. If an ex-offender is able to find and keep a minimum wage job they would make $8.23 per hour, while actually living wage for one adult is $11.61. If that person is working full time (2080 hours per year) they will make $17,188.40 and their rent would be $11,496 meaning they have $5,692.40 left over to pay for food, medical expenses, transportation, taxes, and all other living expenses.

This is a reason why many ex-offenders put themselves in vulnerable positions turning to unsafe housing. Other challenges they face include no credit card, id theft (which is very common), age, and the list continues. By starting with supportive and affordable housing programs, organizations like the ones above are tackling one of the most challenging components of reentry head on. Housing is a necessity and many put themselves in a dangerous position finding it.

There are hundreds of stories about what it’s like to enter back into the world after offenders have been in prison, and the majority are difficult journeys. Here are just two from  ThinkProgress. Organizations like the ones who participated in the Housing Colorado panel are integral in order to help ex-offenders, but there are many more out there. It has been said that “housing is the first wrung on the latter out of poverty.” This applies to people trapped in the hopeless cycle of incarceration as well. In 2017, we need to work towards creating housing for all, no exceptions.

Virginia Housing Development Authority Case Study

ProLink Solutions, as an industry leader in affordable housing, serves our customers and the overall industry by continually adapting—applying and translating changes in the market and federal regulations to technology. In doing so, we keep…